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"Together We're Heavy" by Polyphonic Spree (2004)

"Together We're Heavy" by Polyphonic Spree

Artist:

Polyphonic Spree

Album:

Together We're Heavy

Released In:

2004

Reviewed By:

The Boneman

Grade:

4.5

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Polyphonic Spree in a literal sense has arisen from the ashes of Tripping Daisy, following the drug overdose of guitarist Wes Berggren, singer Tim Delaughter has assembled not so much a band as a congregation. With 23 full-time members many of which take to the stage wearing flowing white robes, DeLaughter has created a phenomenon that is somewhere between the Beatles, Flaming Lips, Yes, and the cast from Godspell.

In terms of scope, execution and ambition you have to go way back to find albums to compare this record to. It certainly has the sky's the limit approach as Sergeant Pepper, Pet Sounds, Dark Side of the Moon, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, (Genesis) Close to the Edge, (Yes) and more recently O.K. Computer, The Rising Tide (Sunny Day Real Estate) and both of the last Flaming Lips records. With occasional touches of the most grandiose moments of the Who (Tommy), as well as E.L.O. and Alan Parson's Project.

This is huge and intricately detailed often symphonic music, complete with orchestration that is equal parts strings, brass and woodwind. You could argue that this is done to excess, but I could argue that it perfectly complements and suits the nature of this unique musical venture. Not only does the raiment of the group resemble Godspell, but lyrically DeLaughter leans toward the spiritual and uplifting, or at least the possibility of such things and his vocals are just about a perfect cross between Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips) and Jon Anderson (Yes).

The only knock I have and it's a trifling one is that there is a little bit too much same-ishness, from song to song, which can cause you're attention to wander, but PS is so adept at changes in dynamics that this is rarely a problem. Also I would say that a few of the songs run a bit long. Still I've got a sneaking suspicion that the Spree has given us the best album of the year. It is heavy but not heavy-handed and light in both spirit and sound. (Note this is a bit of a tease, the album won't be released in the U.S. until July 13.)

:: zBoneman.com Reader Comments ::

Father Time

Father Time

I know this is going to date me - but you don't know how much good it does me to see the bands you mentioned above as being the influences for PS, Flaming Lips and Radiohead. It's obvious to me when I listen to these bands also Sunny Day Real Estate and Pire Theft that they're heavily influenced by Yes and Genesis. The problem being that most people who were alive when Yes and Genesis were brilliant in the early to mid 70s are either dead or senile by now. Most people think of Yes as "Owner of a Lonely Heart," and Genesis as Phil Collins side project. Just wanted to give you guys the tip of the hat for knowing what you're talking about. I haven't read any other reviews for PS that mention anything about this seemingly obvious truth.

Polyphonic...Please

Polyphonic...Please

Listen, I understand the greatness of the P Spree's debut, it even earned it's 4 1/2 rating, but come on....this is redundancy at its finest. The song titles are even a continuation of the last album. You even said it yourself. Just because they became critics darlings the first time around, doesn't mean they deserve a wink and a nod again. It remains a 3 1/2 rating at best.

KJ

KJ

Them's fightin' words, boy! And don't think I don't know who you are?

Spreeeee

Spreeeee

The strange thing about Together We're Heavy is that when I first bought it I went straight home and put on the headphones and was absolutely knocked out by it, if you really pay close attention there is a world of layers and details and I just thought it was sheer brilliance. On the other hand I find that I've tired of it a lot faster than I woud have imagined. So I can understand the wide range of critical disagreement on this album.

Nathan Myers

Nathan Myers

The reviewer for either pitchfork or popmatters acused DeLaughter of being nothing but a Wayne Coyne copycat and to some extent there's some validity to this. At the same time if you're going to copy someone that's not a bad one to emulate, besides what The Spree is all about is something altogether different maybe not in sound but in spirit than what the Flaming Lips do. It will be fascinating to see what Coyne does next as well as Beck and Radiohead - there's absolutely no predicting these three.

Flamer

Flamer

If Wayne Coyne joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir so would Tim DeLaughter.

runt-tail

runt-tail

Interesting that you compared them to Jeff Lynne and his band electric light orchestra. In what ways are they similar, in singing or musically.

Bone

Bone

Mr. Tail - very impressed with your knowledge of music history as well as the spelling . . . In answer to your question let me break it down logically. Since Polyphonic Spree is a band comprised of a sizable orchestra and the name of the Electric Light Orchestra also contains the concept of Orchestra, I would have to deduce that the resemblace is more musical than vocal. Now get back to work.

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